One of the races worth watching not just in Washington state but from the national perspective is the one for the 8th Congressional District which is now a contest between former Republican State Sen. Dino Rosso and Democrat Dr. Kim Schrier, whose primary campaign had gun control as a cornerstone issue.
Democrats have wanted to turn the district blue for years, and this year’s election could shape up as a real battle that – if history is any indicator – will likely turn quickly dirty against Rossi, the successful businessman who was also known for his successful bipartisan budget work in Olympia.
A lot of people remember the controversial gubernatorial race of 2004 that Rossi won twice, before he lost by 133 votes on a second recount and a judge’s ruling. The dispute is boiled down at Wikipedia.
The 8th District is sprawling, to put it mildly. It crosses the Cascades from Issaquah to Ellensburg and Wenatchee, encompassing farm, timber and ranch country, along with suburban business and rapidly expanding residential communities.
The Seattle P-I.com noted Tuesday that Schrier and her two Democrat colleagues pulled in 82,450 primary votes to Rossi’s 72,185 primary votes, suggesting that the Republican has a tough fight ahead. But much of the 8th District is what some Seattle liberals condescendingly refer to as “gun country,” and a lot of the people in that district want someone in Congress who will speak for them, not down to them, about all sorts of subjects including the firearms they might own. Seattle is not part of the 8th District, and the farther east one travels in that district, the greater the dislike for “anything Seattle.”
When was the last time any Democrat member of the Evergreen State’s congressional delegation spoke for gun owners on Capitol Hill?
Schrier’s primary campaign featured one oft-repeated advertisement in which she vowed to stand up to the National Rifle Association. That certainly sent a wrong signal to members of the Issaquah Sportsmen’s Club and Snoqualmie Valley Rifle Club.
Rossi’s campaign so far has focused on his record and bipartisan approach in Olympia, and as a veteran businessman in the district.
Just how serious are Democrats about flipping the 8th District? The Seattle P-I.com story quoted also-ran candidate Jason Rittereiser, who conceded the race to Schrier. He was blunt: “I care deeply about this district and as Democrats we must win this seat.” At this point, a lot of Republicans might ask, “Oh, yeah? Why?”
There seems little doubt that liberals are more organized than conservatives in Washington state. Democrats look to be ready to capture more seats in the state legislature, and at the federal level, the pressure is on to take the House of Representatives so they can push impeachment of Donald Trump. If they can take the Senate, they will derail any further nominations of solid conservatives to the federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.
At the Washington Arms Collectors’ Puyallup gun show over the weekend, there was a lot of discussion about the lousy participation in last week’s primary. Grassroots activists need to turn that around in the next 11 weeks, and one can bet they will be busy in the 8th District.